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Southern All Stars Asphalt Series: Early Bird 100 - Report and Results

2 March 1998

                        PATIENT VETERAN NABS EARLY BIRD 100

Montgomery, Ala. - Eight days after the action began, Fayetteville, GA's
Ronnie Sanders took the checkered flag to win the Early Bird 100 at
Montgomery (Ala.) Speedway USA in the season opener for the Southern All
Stars Asphalt Series. The win, worth $5,000 to Sanders, came as a result of
staying out of trouble and near the front for the entire race before
inheriting the lead with just four laps to go.

Following a rain out a week ago, 42 of the original 48 cars that were on
hand came back to Montgomery to finish filling the field for the Early Bird
100. There were 28 cars that had been locked in following first round
qualifying, but 8 more positions remained to be filled to round out the 36
car starting lineup. That total soon jumped to 10 spots available when
David Hole spun coming out of turn four during practice and Chris Mullinax
had nowhere to go and slammed into the driver’s side door of Hole's car.
Safety crews were quickly on the scene and Hole was taken to a local
hospital complaining of  pain in his lower left leg. Although Mullinax had
been hard on the brakes when the two cars collided, it still took almost 45
minutes to separate the two cars which were locked together. Neither
Mullinax or Hole would be able to make the race, for which they had already
qualified and Terry Mason and Tim Bryant were moved into the 26th and 27th
starting spots.

Following practice, Second Round Qualifying was held and A.W. Kirby from
Nashville, TN set the fast time of 19.201 seconds around the half mile oval
to pace the six cars that were able to make the field. Roger Scott and
Steve Cook were awarded provisional starting spots based on 1997 SAS points
and Fast Qualifier John Wilkinson III filled the final starting position as
he attempted to take the $10,000 bonus for starting at the rear and winning
the race.

With Wilkinson starting at the tail of the field, Dave Mader III of
Mooresville, NC led the field down to the green flag. The first attempt to
get the race underway resulted in a major pile-up in turn one that involved
at least 10 cars. Most received minor damage to the bodywork, but the cars
of Bryant, Patrick Lawler and Wesley Stephens were unable to continue,
reducing the field to 33 cars. On the restart everyone made it cleanly
through the first lap without incident with Mader grabbing the point,
trailed closely by Tony Walls, Donny Brusso, Mike Harmon and Johnny

On lap 2 Mike Garvey spun in turn four bringing out a brief caution and it
was back to full bore racing, With the order at the front remaining static,
the action was taking place back in the pack where Bobby Gill was coming to
the front in a hurry from his 17th starting position. Using the outside
groove, Gill picked off Darrell Brown on lap 9 and Jerry Godwin on lap 10
to move into the top 10. On lap 13 Harmon was able to work his way around
Brusso on the inside of turn two to move into third, but Mader and Walls
were pulling quickly away from the field, having opened up a 5 car length

By lap 20 the front runners were Mader, Walls, Harmon, Dan Beddingfield and
Brusso when the second caution came out for a two car spin on the back
straight. Gill was continuing his run to the front, and Wilkinson, still
after the bonus was slowly working his way through the field and had
reached 23rd spot when the yellow flew.

Once again under green flag conditions Andy Antinoro moved past Brusso into
fifth while Gill continued his high side attack. On lap 39 as the car
entered turn three, Antinoro was on the bottom with Ronnie Sanders sliding
to the high side. Gill tried to put his car in the middle and there was
contact between him and Antinoro causing both to spin out and damaging
Gill’s car. As the cars spun they tapped the car of Tommy “Texas Tornado”
Grimes causing him to spin sideways, but the Texan quickly gathered the car
up and only lost one spot in the incident. With Antinoro now at the rear, 
Buddy Welch assumed the fifth spot in the running order.

By the halfway point of the race, Wilkinson had worked his way inside the
top 15 and was picking off cars at a steady rate. Mader continued in the
lead, with Walls right on his bumper and looking for a way around. Harmon
remained a steady third with Beddingfield fourth and Sanders now into
fifth. Grimes held down sixth with Brown, Tim Fryar, Gary Jones and Garvey
rounding out the top ten.

On lap 60 Walls finally was able to get his nose under Mader in turn three
and zipped into the lead. In turn two Mader's car suddenly slowed and he
headed for the pits and out of the race. Joey Clanton brought out the next
caution when he spun on the exit of turn two and many of the front runners
chose this caution to head for the pits and two fresh tires. When pits
stops were completed the front five consisted of Walls, Beddingfield,
Grimes, Brown and Jones.

On the restart Brown dropped to the low side coming off turn four and
blazed past  Grimes to take third and Walls came under heavy pressure from
Beddingfield. On lap 72 Walls exited turn two and dropped the right side
off the car off the track on the exit. Smoke immediately erupted from the
car and although Walls kept it going hard through turns three and four, it
was spraying liquid on to the track. Brown and Grimes, still battling hard
for third hit the oil and both slammed hard into the turn four wall. Both
cars were able to make it to the pits for repairs but their chance of
taking the win was over as both lost laps in the pits. A lengthy caution
followed while track crews cleaned up the oil spill that circled the track.

With Walls' retirement Beddinfield took over the lead with Jones now in
second, Garvey third, Chris Horton up to fourth and Godwin in fifth. Warren
McMahan was running in sixth and sitting in seventh was Wilkinson, well
positioned for a final run at the bonus. Brazier, Sanders and Harmon filled
the rest of the top 10.

On the restart Jones failed to come up to speed and quickly lost positions
with Wilkinson now moving to sixth. A single car spin on lap 85 closed up
the field again under caution with Garvey and Horton now right behind
Beddingfield and Wilkinson now up to fourth spot. With just 10 laps to go
everything was set for an exciting shootout.

On lap 93 as McMahan tried to pass the lapped car of Mike Arnold on the
backstraight and the two got together and went hard into the turn three
barrier. With the cleanup in progress the order at the front was now
Beddingfield ahead of Sanders, Godwin, Wilkinson and Garvey.

Under Southern All Stars rules the last five laps of the race must be run
under green, so now a five lap shootout for the win was ready to be
unleashed with $10,000 on the line for “John Boy” Wilkinson. As the green
flag flew Wilkinson went low out of turn four and slipped past Godwin to
take third and closed on the back bumper of Horton. As the cars roared
through turn two, Wilkinson hit the left rear of Horton, spinning him out
and he himself was barely able to maintain control of his car. Godwin was
able to slide by on the low side and regain his lost spot. With the caution
now out and just four laps left it became mass confusion on the track as
everyone it seemed wanted to be in the top five! Officials were finally
forced to stop the cars on the track to get them to line up in single file
for the restart, and once they had them in line and ready to go,
Beddingfield could not get his engine started and the leader was forced to
the pits and the attention of his crew. Although he would rejoin the race
before losing a lap, he had lost the lead. 

The order at the front now had Sanders in the lead with Godwin second and
Wilkinson third. Garvey and McGuire rounded out the top five as the last
four laps finally got underway. On the restart Garvey went to the outside
of Wilkinson in a bold move to take third, but Wilkinson headed low to get
under Godwin. Garvey, trapped behind Godwin, then headed low and was able
to follow Wilkinson around on the low side for third. With these three cars
fighting hard for second for almost a full lap, Sanders was able to open a
four car-length lead which was too much for Wilkinson to overcome in the
final three laps and he fell just one spot short of collecting the $10,000
bonus. Garvey finished in third with Godwin fourth and McGuire taking

The race may have taken eight days to complete, but it had all the
excitement one could ask for with 4 different leaders, 10 cautions, a
thrilling four lap shootout and 13 cars on the lead lap battling for
position at the checkered flag. A really entertaining and exciting event
that bodes well for the Southern All Stars Series in 1998. The next race
for the asphalt series will be March 28 at Huntsville (Ala.) Speedway.

Montgomery Speedway USA - Provisional results for the 
Southern All Stars Asphalt Series, 
Early Bird 100:

Ps.Ql. No.  Driver , Car                                         Laps  Notes
-- -- ---- ----------------------------------------------------- ----- 
 1 11  18  Ronnie Sanders  JR Stinchcomb Industries         Chev 107          
 2 36  59  John Wilkinson  Hamner Race Eng                  Chev 107          
 3 15  55  Mike Garvey     Corner Maker Chassis             Chev 107          
 4 10  X2  Jerry Godwin    RPM                              Chev 107          
 5 14  22m Jackie McGuire  Shelby Concrete                  Chev 107          
 6 23  83  Joey Clanton    Motorola/Southern Linc           Chev 107          
 7  4  24  Mike Harmon     Four Star Motorsports            Chev 107          
 8  8   1  Tracy Goodson   Lifestyle Vinyl Products         Chev 107          
 9  5  71  Johnny Brazier Frogg Toggs/Moody Mondays         Ford 107          
10  6  44  Dan Beddingfield Caroline B Taylor               Chev 107          
11 13  51  Chris Horton    Oliver Tire                      Chev 107          
12  9  87  Buddy Welch     Air Flow Awnings                 Chev 107          
13 32   1Y Keith Cahela    Y-Mart                           Chev 107          
14 25   6  Gary Jones      Jones Auto Parts/Griffin Radiat  Chev 106          
15 34   1c Steve Cook      Shepherd Center                  Chev 106          
16 19  22g Tommy Grimes    RGR Systems/Nationwide Apps      Chev 103          
17 35  17  Roger Scott     Bearden Electric/Calhoun Welding Chev 103          
18 31  11L Donald Long     Panhandle Grading and Paving     Chev 100          
19 22  33  Warren McMahan   McSpadden Construction          Chev  92          
20 28  65  A.W.Kirby       S&H Chrome Plating               Chev  92          
21 33  60  Mike Arnold     AMC Trailers/Unifirst            Chev  91          
22 12  58  Darrell Brown   Brown Trucking /Veterans Oil     Chev  88          
23 16  61  Tim Fryar       Fryar Trucking/AFCO              Chev  84          
24  3  81  Tony Walls      Chandeleur Homes                 Chev  76          
25  2  22  Donny Brusso    AAA Custom Cabinets              Ford  70          
26  1  84  Dave Mader III BRJ Race Cars/Hamner Engines      Chev  63          
27 29  18h Shad Hodgin     Controtech/Colors Paint          Chev  56          
28  7  27  Andy Antinoro   Guaranty Pest Cont/Compet Eng    Chev  38          
29 17  86  Bobby Gill      Great American Race Cars/Hamner  Chev  38          
30 20  89  Lee Hansard     Chastain Engine Center           Chev  38          
31 21  78  Brad Webb       PRC Truck Accessories            Chev  35          
32 26  11m Terry Mason     PostensOverhead Door/CCC Group   Chev  27          
33 18   1m Ken McFarland                                    Chev  27          
34 27  81b Tim Bryant      Harrington Electrical            Chev   0          
35 24   2  Wesley Stephens Evans Norris/Laser Cutting       Chev   0          
36 30  31  Patrick Lawler  Manheim Auctions                 Chev   0          


Margin of Victory : 2 car lengths
Lap Leaders       : Mader, Walls, Beddingfield, Sanders
Cautions          : 10
Track Length      :  0.5000 Miles

John Kaiser -- The Auto Channel